In the heart of the Italian Riviera, the medieval port town of Genoa is famous not only as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, but also for its regal heritage. Here are our picks for the city’s must-see palaces.
Royal Palace Museum (Museo di Palazzo Reale)
Via Balbi, 10, Genoa, Italy
Though the palace seems designed for royalty, it was actually built in the early 17th century for the Balbi family, who sold it to the wealthy Durazzo family just a few decades later. Originally called Palazzo Balbi, it only became the Royal Palace in the 19th century when the Royal House of Savoy moved in. The Palazzo Reale is now a museum filled with a collection of fine antique furniture and decorated with frescoes, stuccowork, and paintings by important artists, such as Tintoretto and van Dyck.
The Museo di Palazzo Reale is an unforgettable stop on Genoa walking tours and one of the city's main attractions, along with the Nautical Museum (Galata Museo del Mare) and Genoa Aquarium. If touring independently, book admission in advance so you can skip the lines upon arrival.
Things to Know Before You Go
Walking tours of Genoa involve a considerable amount of time on your feet, so choose comfortable shoes.
The palazzo is accessible to wheelchairs via an elevator.
Flash photography is not allowed inside the museum.
A tour of the Royal Palace Museum is especially interesting for art and architecture aficionados.
How to Get There
Genoa is the capital of Liguria and one of the most important ports in Italy, so it’s easy to reach by train from any other major Italian city. The Royal Palace is just a 5-minute walk up Via Balbi from the train station.
When to Get There
The museum is open all day, so it’s a good stop during those tricky early afternoon hours when many churches and other attractions close for lunch. Keep in mind that the Royal Palace Museum is closed on Mondays, and Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Highlights of the Royal Palace Museum
Be sure to visit the ornate Piano Nobile, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Throne Room. Outside, you can also tour the pretty palace gardens.
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- Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
- Dialogue in the Dark Exhibition (Dialogo nel Buio)
- Piazza Caricamento
- Aquarium of Genoa
- La Biosfera
- Spianata Castelletto
- Palazzo Bianco
- Palazzo Rosso
- Palazzi dei Rolli
- Via San Lorenzo
- Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)
- Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art (Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone)
- Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
- Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)